May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory: and may no misconduct, in any one, tarnish it: and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British fleet.
For myself individually, I commit my life to Him who made me and may His blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my country faithfully.
To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Prayer of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson
(Off Cape Trafalgar, 21 October 1805)
These beautiful words are found in the personal diary of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson (1758 – 1805), who is naval history’s grandest figure and the most well known and revered warrior in England’s pantheon of heroes. In an age when a successful admiral might gain one victory in fleet or squadron action during his lifetime, Nelson gained three: at the Battle of the Nile (1798), the Battle of Copenhagen (1801) and the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). The scale and significance of these victories was also unparalleled. His taking of nineteen French and Spanish ships off Cape Trafalgar — the “great and glorious victory” he prayed for — gave him more enemy ships than any of his predecessors had captured or destroyed in all their battles put together, and, more important, it secured for Great Britain command of the sea for over a century.